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Quantifying fecal shedding of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis from calves after experimental infection and exposure

Corbett, Caroline S., Barkema, Herman W., De Buck, Jeroen
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.2 pp. 1478-1487
DNA, Holstein, bacteria, bulls, calves, dairy industry, enteritis, farms, feces, financial economics, group housing, neonates, paratuberculosis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction
Johne's disease, a chronic enteritis caused by Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP), causes large economic losses to the dairy industry worldwide. Fecal shedding of MAP contaminates the environment, feed, and water and contributes to new infections on farm, yet there is limited knowledge regarding mechanisms of shedding, extent of intermittent shedding, and numbers of MAP bacteria shed. The objectives were to (1) compare (in an experimental setting) the frequency at which intermittent shedding occurred and the quantity of MAP shed among pen mates that were inoculated or contact-exposed (CE); and (2) determine whether an association existed between inoculation dose and quantity of MAP shed. In the first experiment, 32 newborn Holstein-Friesian bull calves were allocated to pens in groups of 4, whereby 2 calves were inoculated with a moderate dose (MD; 5 × 108 cfu) of MAP and 2 calves acted as CE. Calves were group-housed for 3 mo, fecal samples were collected and cultured, and culture-positive samples were quantified. In the second experiment, 6 calves were inoculated with either a low (LD) or high (HD) dose of MAP (1 × 108 or 1 × 1010 cfu, respectively), and fecal samples were collected for 3 mo and cultured for detection of MAP. The amount of MAP was quantified using direct extraction (DE) of DNA from fecal samples and F57-specific quantitative PCR. In experiment 1, the average amount of MAP in all culture-positive samples did not differ between MD and CE calves. In experiment 2, when comparing inoculation doses, LD calves had the lowest proportion of MAP-positive culture samples and HD had the highest, but no difference was detected in the average quantity of MAP shed. This study provided new information in regards to Johne's disease research and control regarding shedding from various inoculation doses and from CE animals; these data should inform future trials and control programs.